Nakuru governor-elect Lee Maiyani Kinyanjui has his work cut out for him, even as he prepares to be sworn into office on Monday at ASK grounds in Nakuru town.
His win of 632,740 votes against 70,779 garnered by his nearest challenger Dr Peter Koros of Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) shows the amount of goodwill that he enjoys across the political divide in the county.
Pundits say the win cannot be solely ascribed to the backing of his populous Kikuyu community and their political bedfellows-the Kalenjin, but to all the residents.
And it places a duty on Mr Kinyanjui, 44, to set up a government that is more inclusive than the previous one run by Governor Kinuthia Mbugua.
“Mr Kinyanjui must reciprocate this gesture by making sure his political dining table is all inclusive,” Mr Abdullah Bilal, a Muslim leader at Jamia mosque in Nakuru Town, said.
“The time to show political maturity and progressive leadership is now,” the national chairman of Pyrethrum Growers Association, Mr Justus Mochache Monda, said.
In Governor Mbugua’s government, all the executive committee positions were dominated by the two communities, with a single Kamba making an unnoticeable inclusion, as the rest of the communities watched from outside.
The PGA boss said Mr Kinyanjui should give the once lucrative pyrethrum sector that is now in a coma, a fresh jab in the arm to resuscitate and transform it into the vibrant sector that it was previously.
“The pyrethrum sector alone can spare the governor-elect the runaway youth unemployment headache if he personally takes the initiative to put it back on the lane to profitability,” Mr Monda said.
The residents have high expectations that the affable politician with admirable listening skills will deliver on his dozen promises.
Mr Kinyanjui has made verbal and written commitment to hawkers, the business community, institutions and communities with specific timelines.
As the county’s top decision-maker, Mr Kinyanjui will be the man in the spotlight.
Many residents however agree that if he is not held hostage by cartels such as the super-rich group of elders who tethered the past regime.
Nakuru will, in five years, look very different from what we currently know.
“I have worked with him and unless he has changed his way of doing things, then Nakuru residents should expect a major development shift,” a senior employee of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), which Mr Kinyanjui once headed, said.
However, the six million dollar question is whether he will be the answer to the many ills that have rocked the county and by dealing with the elephant in the room.
Many residents will be keenly watching to see whether he will maintain the kind of independence he exhibited during the campaigns.
It also remains to be seen whether he will slay the tribalism dragon that has over the years ensured the devolution cake remained in the hands of two dominant communities in a highly cosmopolitan county.
Mr Kinyanjui must also be scheming on how he will handle the emerging political rivalry between him and Senator-elect Susan Kihika in a bid to realise his development dream.
The county’s bleeding health sector, rocked by massive staff shortage, poor remuneration and lack of equipment, is another challenge that will define his leadership.
The number of nurses at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital has declined by 25 per cent since the start of devolution.
The hospital, which also serves Narok, Kericho and Baringo counties lacks specialists such as nurses, physiotherapists and anaesthetists.
The busy hospital currently has only 40 medical officers and specialists, far short of the required 110, given its size.
But if there is anything that should be keeping Mr Kinyanjui awake at night, it is the ballooning annual wage bill now standing at Sh5 billion.
The county missed its revenue collection target last financial year by more than Sh2 billion due to financial mismanagement that has transformed some county workers into overnight millionaires.
Mr Kinyanjui will have to burn the midnight oil seeking how to enhance revenue collection.
“This county has received over Sh44 billion in the last four years from the exchequer. What makes me sad is that there is nothing on the ground to reflect such huge investment,” Mr Kinyanjui said.
He said water shortage in the county was worse than it was five years ago, while waste management at Gioto dumpsite has literally collapsed.
There is also no flagship project worth mentioning despite the devolved unit having spent millions of shillings in search of the so-called foreign investors.
“This county must move away from business as usual syndrome and change its service delivery mechanism to Wanjiku without further delay.”
He added: “Devolution in Nakuru has transformed individual lives of the county officers and not the residents.”